Steve Pressman was hoping to see polar bear babies on his third polar bear safari with Churchill Wild. He got more than he bargained for. A wildlife trifecta!
Pressman met with wolves on the second day of his trip, found moose later in the week, and yesterday ventured deep into the Nanuk woods to find a polar bear family getting ready to head to Hudson Bay.
“We got very close to the wolves,” said Pressman, who is at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge for the Nanuk Emergence Quest. “There were nine of them very near the lodge. And they were huge. They got to within six feet of us. They came up together and split up on either side of us. I was thinking they were circling the wagons.”
Pressman is a long way from the store he owns, Pill Box Pharmacy & Medical Supply in sunny Florida, but the snowy cold of northern Manitoba hasn’t phased him, his wife Angela, or any of the other six guests on the trip.
The couple are on the Nanuk Emergence Quest with Cath and Dave Kirkup from the UK, Frank Ennekens from Belgium, Dave McEldowney from Arizona and Christoph and Fabienne Jansen from Switzerland.
“I like the cold and the snow,” said Pressman, who has travelled the world in search of the ultimate wildlife photo. “It makes for better photos.”
Pressman has been to Antarctica three times, and has seen polar bears in Churchill, Svalbard and Wrangel Island, but the Nanuk magic enticed him to return. Pressman, his wife and two sons, were at Seal River Heritage Lodge last summer for Birds, Bears & Belugas, and returned to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge for the Cloud Wolves of the Kaska Coast safari last fall.
Not only are they seeing wolves on a regular basis at Nanuk, they’ve also seen some magnificent moose, and there was also a little ice fishing and skiing mixed in with the trip. Pressman caught himself a brook trout, which the lodge staff cooked up in delicious fashion using one of the recipes from our Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbooks.
Pressman had previously joked that he was eating too much at the lodges and told Churchill Wild Sales Manager Sue Brown to feed him lettuce only on his next trip. There’s no way you can spend long days exploring the hillocks and forests of Nanuk in the snow without getting hungry, and the lettuce diet was quickly discarded for much needed and more delicious fare, and lots of it.
“Guests were busy having some of the best wolf experiences and close encounters of their trip, when we had to interrupt them with news of a polar bear sighting,” said Lodge Manager Nicole Spinks via email on the evening of the sighting.
“Everyone ripped out of the lodge by 9:15 a.m. heading towards the Mistikokan River and then about four km inland from there, taking only hot drinks and some snacks with them. Tyler (Warkentin) and his Arctic Uber Eats outfit later brought a hot lunch out to the guests, guides and scouts.
“Guests hopped on the back of the snow machines and headed towards the coast, then down the polar bear highway for a better view, and got to spend the afternoon with a mom and her two cubs. They were completely unbothered by the guests, who respectfully kept their distance. Calm and peaceful.”
The initial text message from Pressman simply said “BEARS!!” but he later added, “It was an amazing day at Nanuk. The day started out with fog and frosted trees and there were wolves all over the place, but we had to wrap it up quickly to go see the bears. We were buried thigh high in snow but we made it to the spot and waited.”
The wait paid off handsomely for the group, and for Pressman, who got some of his best lifetime shots of polar bear cubs at Nanuk. He’ll display a selection of his latest photos of wolves, Arctic landscapes, northern lights and polar bears on his YouGottaLoveNature.com website, his Instagram profile @yougottalovenature_ and on his Facebook page @YouGottaLoveNature.
One of Pressman’s photos won first place in the People category in the 2022 Churchill Wild Guest Photo Contest, and a few images from his previous trips on display in his pharmacy have prompted staff to ask him if they were taken by a National Geographic photographer. We’re betting his latest creations will have them asking that same question again, very soon.
“Nanuk has done it again.” said Spinks. “The team and the guests crushed it. Whoohoo! The bubbles have been popped and I’m off to celebrate!”
She wasn’t the only one.